Good Stories from China: Disaster Follows Wrongful Killing

June 26, 2007 Updated: June 26, 2007

According to the Book of Han, a classic Chinese history book from 2200 years ago, a judge named Senior Yu became well known for his fairness and wisdom.

During the reign of the Xuan Emperor in the Han Dynasty people built a memorial for Senior Yu while he was still alive.

Senior Yu was an Administrator at the County Prison as well as the Township Judge. He was very just and fair when he held court sessions. Of all the judgments handed down by the court, those written by the Senior Yu were considered the most appropriate and well balanced. Many times even those convicted would agree that Senior Yu's punishments were fair.

During that time, in the Township of East Sea, there was a very kind and dutiful woman named Zhou Qing. She was extremely thoughtful and caring towards her mother-in-law in accordance with the Chinese custom.

Her mother-in-law said, “My daughter-in-law works so hard to take care of me! I am already very old. Why should I cherish my limited life in this world and burden the younger generations?” The old woman then committed suicide by hanging herself.

The old woman's married daughter came home from her husband's place and accused Zhou Qing of murdering her mother. She filed her accusation at the Township Governor's Office. The government then arrested the kind hearted daughter-in-law Zhou Qing. They tortured her and forced her to admit guilt to the crime.

After hearing about the case, Senior Yu advised the Governor, “This woman had taken care of her mother-in-law for more than 10 years and her loyalty was well known in this area. I do not believe that she murdered her mother-in-law.” Yet, the Governor refused to heed Senior Yu's advice, and insisted on carrying out the death penalty against Zhou Qing. After many futile attempts to change the Governor's mind, Senior Yu left broken hearted.

According to the Chinese belief, when an innocent person is killed disasters will strike the hometown of the victim. After Zhou Qing was put to death, the Township of East Sea suffered three years of continued drought. The Governor was blamed and dismissed from his position.

When the new Governor reported to duty, he asked Senior Yu, “How come we did not have any rainfall for the last three years?” Senior Yu answered, “The loyal daughter-in-law should not have died. She was wrongfully executed by the former Governor. The calamity was caused by killing this innocent person.”

The new Governor immediately went to the grave site of Zhou Qing to pay tribute to her in person. He built a Memorial Archway of Integrity at the grave site as a commendation to her posthumously. The rain returned immediately and the township had a bumper crop that year.